Friday, April 8, 2011

French Crullers with Honey-Sugar Glaze

Crullers are such gorgeous donuts, I could snap photos of them all day with sticky fingers. That is... if they ever lasted that long around here.

Not only are they photogenic, they're not terribly difficult to make. Perfect for the absent minded pregnant lady who wants a sweet treat asap.

For those unfamiliar with French crullers, they're different than your average yeast or cake donut. French crullers are light, airy and eggy morsels of powdered or glazed dough. (I usually tell folks: If you like Dutch baby pancakes, you'll enjoy these too.) They don't pack the same bellyache inducing carbohydrate-wallop that other donuts do. Which is a good thing, until you find yourself helping yourself to a second and then a third...

Om nom nom

They're made from essentially the same base as cream puffs, eclairs, gougeres and non-yeasted beignets (choux). While choux is a kitchen basic and I have a couple reliable recipes on hand I decided to take a page from a local Seattle foodie and photographer who recently put out a book titled Doughnuts. I can't help but love single food or flavor themed cookbooks, they're always a treat. So many variations and yes, there are gluten free and vegan donuts as well. (Now someone needs to put out a 50 recipe book devoted to French fries. Okay? Please?).

There are easily a half dozen recipes from this book I want to test, but I decided to start with something quick and simple. After all, I'm still rather clumsy in the kitchen. I'm now fairly certain my pelvis is held together with cheap rubber bands.

And on that weird note, let's make some donuts!

French Crullers with Honey-Sugar Glaze
from Doughnuts: Simple and Delicious Recipes to Make at Home
yields roughly one dozen
1 cup water
3 oz (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cubed
10 grams (2 teaspoons) superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
135 grams (1 cup) all-purpose flour, sifted
3 large eggs
2 large egg whites

vegetable oil for frying

150 grams (1 1/2 cups) powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon honey (I'm using orange blossom)
3-4 tablespoons milk or water

Combine butter, sugar, salt and water in a medium heavy bottomed sauce pan. Place over medium high heat and bring to a rapid boil.

Once boiling, grab a wooden spoon and the flour. Add the flour and stir vigorously to completely incorporate. Continue to cook, stirring constantly for three to four minutes. You want to cook away as much of the moisture as possible, so continue to stir until you can mash it about in the pan without steam forming. Ferroni notes: "The more moisture you remove, the more eggs you can add later and the lighter your pastry will be." When a thin film coats the bottom of your pan, you can remove it from the heat and prepare to beat in your eggs.

Beating in the eggs is best done with a stand mixer or electric beaters. However it can be done by hand if you have the prerequisite stamina and/or viking arms.

Equip your mixer with the paddle attachment and add the flour mixture to the bowl. Beat the mixture for a minute or so on medium speed to cool. Then beat in your first egg. Once fully incorporated, scrape down the bowl and beat in the second. Repeat until you have used all the whole eggs.

How much of the whites you will use is variable. This depends on your flour and how much moisture you removed from the dough when cooking it on the stove. Your batter should be glossy from the additional whites, but still firm enough to pipe without flattening and losing it's shape.

This is my batter, a little tough to evaluate since it is smeared all over the bowl and photographed with poor light. However, it should appear glossy (not dull) and when pinched between your fingers and released, the batter should hold a firm peak.

So add enough of the egg white to the bowl, a little at a time while beating to achieve this gloss/stiffness (stop and check often). Remembering that too little egg and you will not get the steam needed to make these treats light and airy (dense donuts). Of course, too much egg and the dough won't have that firm peak when pinched and they will lose their shape when piped. Resulting in crullers that are flat and soft.

Done correctly, when piped your batter will look a bit like this:

Glossy and holds its shape well.

Once you're finished beating in those egg whites. Fit a large pastry bag with a 1/2" star tip (I'm using an Ateco 846 ) and fill it with your pastry dough.

As you see above, we'll be piping these onto squares of paper so cut out a few 3" x 3" pieces of parchment and lightly grease them. We'll be reusing them, so it isn't necessary to cut out a full dozen.

Now fill a pan with 2" of oil and heat it to 370°F (we'll be cooking one cruller at a time, so don't feel you need to pull out the enormous le Creuset to fry in). Prepare and set aside a layer of paper towels for draining and a cooling rack.

Once the oil is hot and ready, pipe rounds of the pastry onto the parchment squares. Drop a single cruller into the hot oil, paper side up. The paper should detach in a second or two (if it doesn't, submerge it with your tongs and it should release shortly) and then remove the paper with tongs.

Fry for a few minutes on each side, flipping once until they are a rich golden brown. If they are cooking too quickly, check your oil temperature and adjust. If they brown too fast and you pull them from the oil too early, the insides will still be overly wet and steamy and your crullers will collapse on the cooling rack.

Repeat with the remaining rounds of pastry, frying one cruller at a time and monitoring the oil temperature carefully.

Pipe more crullers onto the rescued slips of parchment and fry. Repeat until you've used all the batter.

Allow the crullers to cool on a wire rack. Once cool to the touch you can slather all those nooks and crannies with a yummy glaze.

Whisk together the ingredients for your glaze, using just enough of the milk (or water) to make a thick but pourable glaze.

Dip your crullers into the glaze and set them onto a wire rack to dry.

Allow the glaze to set and serve.



  1. I wonder, could you pipe a cream filling into the cruller? and then glaze? Or would that make them too soft?

  2. Cream filling? Well, I don't see why you couldn't. They are after all basically fried cream puffs. Baked choux is a little sturdier though (it has a firmer exterior) and would hold up better. Of course, the donut shape isn't ideal for inserting a bismarck tip and adding cream. You would be punching several holes in the donut to fill all the nooks and crannies inside.

    The cream would soften the pastry (just like ecliars and cream puffs) and it would be best served immediately.

  3. Oh my goodness. I LOVE crullers and it never occurred to me that you could make them at home. Thank you for bringing these into my life. They are going on my "2011 Baking Challenge List" immediately!!!

  4. I am so going to try to make these this weekend. You are so inspiring!

  5. I`d like to make similar crullers one day :) love it!

  6. If I haven't read your blog, I would have never thought of the similarity of crullers to choux pastry. I love crullers, but kind of happy that I don't do deep frying, or else I would eat this all the time!

  7. I've just bought this book. Looking forward to using it even more now that I've seen yours :)

  8. That's gotta be the prettiest donut I've ever seen. Looks delicious!

  9. You have amazing timing I was just thinking of making doughnuts and wondering if I should do crullers. Thanks for the inspiration.

  10. Oh my gosh...this sounds amazing! I'm making these tomorrow. it's settled!

  11. These bring back such fond memories of my favorite doughnuts growing up!

  12. Excellent! I really will have to try these. So pretty using a pastry bag.

  13. Aye yai yai! I was trying so hard not to click on this! It looks sooooooooooo delishus, i might have to take a break from my break from sugar!

  14. At staff meetings I always grab the crueller first from the box...I would love to make these but for the deep frying part. I never know what to do with all that leftover oil!

  15. Oh my God! (drooling) Is there anything more to say?

  16. Crullers are my absolute favourite doughnut. I can't resist them. Last time I made them, I used a maple-brown butter glaze and they were amazing, but they didn't hold their shape as well as yours. Guess that means I'll have to try again, right?

  17. THOSE LOOK WONDERFUL. So fluffy and light! I could definitely eat half a dozen of those without a thought... Lovely job!

  18. These look amazing! I'd never heard of them until now but I love that you can have a doughnut without all that admin!

  19. Oh my gosh! I have been sugar free for 4 days now and I can taste and smell this!! You do make it look delicious (as if I didn't know that) and simple. Agghhhhh!

  20. I'm assuming you add the salt in with the butter, sugar and water? Or do you wait for the flour? Or does it matter?

    Sorry, I'm an engineer!

  21. It should go in with the butter, sugar and water. I'll edit to correct that omission.

  22. Your baby is going to love sweets. Fact.

  23. first time on your site and loving those crullers! love your writing style too :) makes me believe that i can make some crullers too :)

  24. Gorgeous! ALmost too pretty to eat.

  25. Oh, these are so pretty! Thanks for the step-by-step photos, very helpful!

  26. Soo pretty! They look delicious,.. I doubt I would ever have the patience to make them though lol.

  27. Omg those are the most amazing french cruellers I've ever seen!

    I have been donut obsessed ever since I saw a didn't maker shaped like a donut! Since that's kind of impractical, I think I may try these once I get my grill with side burner set up outside, since I feel like bring indoors makes a greasy haze.

    I have a feeling all my neighbor's might pop by if I do that ;)

  28. Wow, I feel like crying!

    I want one sooo bad, they look insanely good!

  29. wow, i haven't had one of those in years. i might actually have to try this, although it looks quite complicated for me.

  30. Can you make them even if you don't have a piping bag and the requisite tips? If so, how would you go about doing that? (I know, I know - it wouldn't *look* like a cruller if you didn't use the bag. But it would still *taste* like one!)

  31. Zana,

    Yes. You could use a ziplock bag with a snipped corner or a paper pastry cone and just squeeze out a loop of batter. Obviously the resulting crullers wouldn't be quite as pretty though.

    You could also simply drop spoonfuls of batter into the oil. Same taste, different shape. Basically they would be a choux style beignet.

  32. Thank you thank you thank you for this recipe! You gave a great tutorial on how them and I had a great time making them!


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